Like most popular protest in Africa, the wide anti-government protest in Ethiopia which was erupted in 2015 has been commonly perceived as accidental and dramatic. However, the protest which culminated with the coming of the new prime minister, Abiye Ahmed on 24 March 2018 is by no means accidental. Contrary to the common understanding of protest as open and dramatic, this paper argued that the Ethiopian anti-governments were emanated from the official state discourse of ‘democratic developmental state’, authoritarian behaviour of the EPRDF and other competing state narratives. The research explored the massive popular protest that broke out in the two largest ethno-regions of the country Oromia and Amhara. In doing so, the study fully employed qualitative desk research approaches to examine the dynamics of the protest and power relation from various perspectives. Secondary sources mainly document reviews, academic journals, media outlets and analysis, public opinions and other were used to analyse the dynamics of the protests.
The conceptual framework of the study was based on Scott’s Domination and the Art of Resistance: The Hidden Transcripts (1990). Scott’s idea of the Art of resistance and the Hidden transcript is particularly relevant to explore the public transcript, the visible everyday relationship of the government and protesters and the hidden transcripts, the invisible discourse of power relation among the ruling government and the protesters. The major findings of the study were the EPRDF’s hegemonic authoritarian rule and its reliance on military and security measures to quell protesters have proven incomparable with the power of protesters. The protester coordination and grievances against the ruling party was the result of their experience of offstage political tactics and strategies rehearsed for decades than the popularly understood of protest.
Keywords: Domination, Resistance, an offstage power relation, Protest